The Islamic State (IS) has declared a state of emergency in its de-facto capital of Raqqa in Syria, a U.S. official has said while asserting that the dreaded terror network “is feeling threatened.”
“We have seen this declaration of emergency in Raqqa, whatever that means,” Colonel Steve Warren, the spokesman for the U.S.-led anti-IS coalition, was quoted as saying by CNN. “We know this enemy feels threatened, as they should,” he said.
U.S. military officials are closely watching social media and news reports that say the IS believes it may soon come under siege in Raqqa, Syria, its self-declared capital, the report has said.
Media reports have indicated that the IS is moving personnel around the city and trying to put up covers in certain areas to shield potential targets from airstrikes and ground attacks.
“We’ve had reports of the IS repositioning both their combat capabilities, I guess what they think may be coming next,” Colonel Warren said. “And we’ve seen reports of them repositioning personnel … either within the city or even out of the city.”
U.S. military also notes that the movement of fighters who have been well dug in throughout Raqqa could give overhead surveillance aircraft an improved chance of finding and targeting them.
Baghdadi could be there
And while the U.S. has not officially said it believes ISIS leader Abu Bakr AlBaghdadi still remains in or around Raqqa, several officials say that has continued to be a working assumption.
However, they are monitoring any potential intelligence that he could be in other locations as well.
“Baghdadi remains extremely careful” about his personal security, a U.S. defence official was quoted as saying.
Killing him does not end the menace
The U.S. will continue to try to find him, the official said. But even if he is located and captured or killed, the U.S. assessment is that it would not immediately change the scope and capability of ISIS operations, because there are other leaders ready to step in.